Status: 13.09.2023, 19:03 p.m.
By: Johannes Welte
The clean-up work on the Mittenwald-Innsbruck railway line is in full swing. © ÖBB
Heavy rainfall caused devastation in Tyrol on Tuesday evening. Near Seefeld (Tyrol), a passenger train drove into a mudslide that was just coming down from the mountain. The Seefeld main road is also blocked.
Update from September 13, 14:14 p.m.: The clean-up work on the railway line and on the B177 federal road, which is also buried by the mudslide, is more complicated than expected. ÖBB has postponed the opening date for the Mittenwald-Innsbruck railway line by four days to Monday evening (18 September). According to ÖBB spokesman Christoph Gasser-Mair, this means that the first trains will run again on Tuesday morning. For passengers, a rail replacement service with buses from Mittenwald to Seefeld has been set up.
"ÖBB is already working at full speed to repair the damage," it said in a press release. Further: "According to the experts' assessment, two excavators have already been in use since Wednesday morning to expose the stretch of debris and mud. Only then can the railcar, which was stopped by the mudslide and partially derailed, be salvaged and any damage to the line assessed."
First reported on September 13, 10:23 a.m.: Seefeld (Tyrol) - With heavy rainfall, late summer said goodbye to the Alps on Tuesday evening. In Austria, it was particularly violent in the area of the fashionable winter sports resort of Seefeld (Tyrol).
Platoon commander had no chance to brake
The heavy rain had triggered a large mudslide on a scree slope between Scharnitz and Seefeld - a rock avalanche. This fell on the railway track from Mittenwald (Bavaria) to Innsbruck. The train driver of the S6 Mittenwald-Innsbruck could no longer stop and drove into the still moving mudslide. The railcar was pushed off the track at around 19.30 p.m. and stopped, it was almost completely trapped by the debris.
The fire brigades from Scharnitz and Seefeld rescued the train driver and five passengers unharmed from the stuck train, 45 men were in action.
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Federal road over Seefelder Sattel also blocked
The neighbouring Bundesstraße 171, the connection from Garmisch-Partenkirchen/Mittenwald (Bavaria) via the Seefelder Sattel and the Zirler Berg (Tyrol) and on to Innsbruck, was also buried by the mudslide, according to the state of Tyrol. This morning, those responsible from the Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB), the Zirl road maintenance department and the state of Tyrol visited the site of the accident to get an idea of how the traffic arteries can be uncovered again.
The mudslide is 250 meters long and 1.5 meters high. Wheel loaders are already in the process of clearing away the rock. However, the ÖBB assumes that the railway line will not be passable again until Thursday evening. A diversion route via Leutasch and Seefeld was set up. However, vehicles over 7.5 tonnes have to drive around the area on a large scale. Buses are running to replace the cancelled trains.
In recent weeks, there have already been several landslides and mudslides in the Alps, which also hit hiking trails. In the Ötztal, a storm had washed away a road at the end of August, some of which caused curious scenes.